Guide to Influencer Marketing for Vacation Rentals

Influencer marketing

Reviews are an integral part of your vacation rental. Your potential guests will believe in another guest’s experience more than they believe in the owner’s marketing. The trust will be higher when it comes from a known source. Influencers are part of that circle, and many people trust their words. This makes influencer marketing for vacation rentals an important part of the marketing strategy.

Influencers will get eyeballs for your rentals, add bookings to your calendar, give you thousands of interested social media followers and email subscribers, and provide excellent lifestyle images and videos to use in your marketing.

Who is an influencer?

An influencer is a person who has garnered a mass following by posting helpful and relatable content on social media platforms and/or maintaining a blog or vlog or both. A travel influencer explores various parts of the world while documenting their journey online.

With the help of influencers, you can create informative content around your property. Or you can be a speaker and dish out pearls of knowledge from your years of experience. You can increase your own brand value and your property’s brand value.

Over the past few years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of influencers pursuing influencing as a full-time job. It is important to note that over 82% of people trust social networks to guide purchasing decisions, and 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations.

Hotels have long-hosted influencers on their premises in exchange for advertising on their social media platforms. This helps them increase the visibility of their property by getting exposure to the influencers’ online following. Your short-term rental property could also benefit from this form of marketing.

You can get the attention of the influencers on the internet by cold-reaching out to them as property managers. However, you can personally attend various short-term rental industry events to connect with influencers. It’ll help you create long-lasting relationships while also doing business. You can also start engaging in the various social media channels and forums and be an influencer for your own property yourself.

Why invest in influencer marketing for vacation rentals?

You understand who a travel influencer is. You know what they do. But what can they do for you? A travel influencer would stay at your property and enjoy the same experiences as a guest. In exchange for the stay, they would market your home by sharing reviews in the form of stories, articles, images, and videos.

1. Increase visibility for your property

influencers can reach hundreds or even thousands of people with a post. Your property will be seen by travelers who are unsure of their travel plans and those who are planning their travel itinerary right now. Sometimes, the travel influencer you have collaborated with might also induce a sudden urge in their followers to travel immediately.

2. Get reviews from a source your guests trust

Reviews are extremely important to your property. Your potential guests are looking for good reviews to book your property. Many guests may not consider renting your property if it has no reviews or a few negative reviews. According to Phocuswright’s US Short Term Rental Report, 29% of consumers look at review scores when comparing rentals of similar value and comfort.

The problem with reviews has been that they came from faceless names that people did not know. Your guest does not directly know the person who has written the testimonial.

Influencers bridge this gap.

Along with advertising your property, influencers will share their opinion of your property. These are organic reviews from trusted people on the internet. Your potential guests now see reviews directly from strangers they trust. They are aware of their journey even if they do not know the influencer personally.

4 Things you Must Do Before Developing an Influencer Marketing Plan

The more prepared you are, the more solid your influencer marketing strategy will be. You must always be prepared before stepping into a commitment with an influencer to make sure you get the results you desire. When crafting a plan, you would identify things that would help you better understand the whole idea of influencer marketing.

1. Set clear influencer marketing goals to benefit your property

It is important to set clear goals to be able to design and plan an effective influencer marketing campaign for your vacation rental business. Do you want to promote your property? Do you want more traffic to your online listing? Or is a discount waiting to be used? 

You might want to increase awareness or just focus on increasing the performance of one listing by gaining more eyeballs. The strategy will have to differ slightly to achieve each of your goals. You need to communicate your requirements properly to the influencer. Why is this important? It will be easier to develop a strategy, communicate with the influencer, and execute the strategy to achieve the desired results. You can also build long-standing relationships with the influencer when both of you have a clear understanding of the collaboration.

2. Understand your competition’s influencer marketing strategies

Influencer marketing is still a new field. Brands are still trying to understand how to manage influencers. Look at what other vacation rentals and other similar properties are doing on various channels. 

You can pick up a notebook and take notes from other properties. Look at what are they offering the influencer they have collaborated with, how much traction they are getting after the campaign, and more importantly, what are they doing right according to you and where are they going extremely wrong. 

Asking these questions is important to understand where other property managers are doing a good job. This will help you understand what kind of influencer campaigns you can plan for. At all points, doing competitor research is important to gauge market trends.

3. Set a benchmark of KPIs you want to achieve through the influencer marketing campaign

By setting a benchmark, you will be confirming to both you and your influencers the metrics you should track. These metrics should envelop the awareness, reach, and impressions that the posts the influencer is making. You’ll be able to identify key metrics that will help properly execute your influencer marketing plans. 

Once these metrics are in place, you will have a method to evaluate your plans further. This will help you revise your plans and realign yourself with your goals.

4. Identify resources you have in hand to manage the influencer marketing campaign

Before confirming with an influencer, you need to understand the resources you have in hand. Couple of things you need to consider: 

  • What can you provide the influencer? Will you provide all expenses paid for stay, special perks with a paid stay, or remuneration for their work? 
  • How much cost are you going to incur by collaborating with an influencer? Calculate the stay cost, the remuneration, if any, and the perks cost you would be taking up. 
  • Do you have someone to keep in touch with the influencer, or will it have to be you? 
  • How much time do you have to dedicate to each task associated with the campaign? Be shooting videos and photos or just communicating with the influencer. 

How to choose the right influencer for influencer marketing?

While building an influencer marketing campaign, you must also choose the right influencer to ensure the campaign works! Not every influencer is going to be the best fit for your property. Your campaign’s success depends on the first step – who do you choose? You must choose an influencer that matches your ideas and your property’s voice! 

1. Analyze the influencer’s brand

You need to pick the influencers that represent your guests. They need to take trips that your guests would, they need to visit places your guests would, and their followers should be your target audience. Not all influencers would be relevant to your property’s brand. Any influencer you connect to might have worked with multiple other brands as well, including your close competitors. You should look if your property would be one of the many or stand out from the lot.

You need to understand the kind of posts that the influencer is making. A couple of things to look for: 

  1. Their communication tone and style
  2. The kind of posts they’re creating – are they making more reels, are they randomly talking about the property, or are they selling the experience organically? 
  3. How are they engaging with their audience? Are they talking to their guests occasionally just to promote stuff, or are they actually building a relationship with their audience? 
  4. Authenticity in their content – has the influencer asked you for videos to be posted on their profile without ever staying at your property? This way, they are lying to their audience; this will backfire on you. You should work towards honest good reviews. 

2. Go through the influencer’s followers on various social media channels

When choosing an influencer, you need to first look at the number of followers they have. Remember that even an influencer with much fewer followers might be able to add good value to your brand.

There are two types of influencers on social media:

  • Micro-influencers who have 2,000 to 100K followers
  • Macro-influencers who have over 100K followers

Here, remember it is easy to buy followers. Just having a large following doesn’t necessarily ensure a higher-worth influencer. You also need to look at their engagement. Do they have a good engagement rate? Usually above 10%, they have genuine followers responding to the influencers’ content. A massive number of followers might be appealing. However, it might not always drive results as macro-influencers target a broad audience and might lose their authenticity. Micro-influencers have very specific audiences, higher engagement rates, and more authenticity in their content.

If the influencer has a very little following, but their followers are your potential guests, it would be good to invest in them. At the same time, if the influencer has a massive following but caters to a different audience than your potential guests, you would not get much out of this deal. Look at the value the influencer would add to your brand, analyze the kind of posts they make and see if your property would stand out.

3. Compare the content quality of the influencer’s posts with yours

Go through your influencers’ social media presence. Completely and thoroughly research them to understand the kind of content they are posting. Scroll through their posts’ history, look at photos, and read captions to assess the content they have posted (both promotional and original).

Ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Do their posts match your niche and your brand?
  2. Does their voice sound compelling and honest?
  3. Do they engage with their audiences naturally?
  4. Do they sound aloof and princely to their audience?
  5. Do they create sales-y content or create organic content for brands?
  6. How do they navigate social media promotional rules?

You need to choose influencers with a style that matches your brand’s voice because you will use their content on various social media channels. Remember, they are going to be representing your brand as well! Again, your property should stand out; the influencer should create authentic content that would reflect your property’s experience.

Travel influencers and influencer marketing can take your short-term rental marketing to the next level by generating relatable content and more user-generated content. This is an easy and humane way to contact your guests about the kind of experience you can provide them at your property.

Build and maintain proper relationships with travel influencers and let them use their knowledge, experience, and creativity to promote your business. Just remember to stay committed to your promises and ensure they are also committed to them. 

5 Steps to Create an Influencer Marketing Strategy

When you understand what goals you want to achieve, you can take the next step and decide on your influencer marketing strategy. Even though influencer marketing is still a little ambiguous, it becomes easier when you take it in small steps. 

To identify the right influencers for your vacation rental, you must go deeper than just the follower count. You need to understand if they cater to your target audience. If they do not, you might end up with an unsuccessful campaign on your hands. 

1. Decide on the budget allocated for the influencer marketing campaign

The more you tie your goals to measurable results, the more you can justify your marketing budget. As you go higher up the influencer ladder, you will notice that their prices also increase.

You will have to consider the following in your budget:

  1. Cost of the influencer’s stay 
  2. Cost of the services they would avail
  3. Monetary benefits that you would extend to the influencer

One important thing to remember here is that you can either provide an all-expenses-paid stay to the influencer or a discounted stay with remuneration to the influencer. You have to decide this based on your goals and the influencer’s worth (followers count, their standing in the digital market, and the quality of their content). An influencer might request for a stay or monetary benefits; you should weigh the worth of the request and then approve it while keeping your goals in mind. 

While the influencer would look like they are having the best time of their life on your property, they are working! You must factor in providing them with the proper resources to work properly. Only then would they be able to deliver the most top-notch content possible. You should provide them with a space to work from, wifi, and any other service you would provide to a workcation guest. 

2. Determine the KPIs that should be tracked for a successful influencer marketing campaign

Setting campaign KPIs will help you establish measurable goals. Knowing where you are in your own social media journey will help you set realistic goals. Are you a thought leader? Is your property being viewed as a luxury spot or a spot to chill with family and friends? Are your posts gaining as much attention and support as you expect? When you know the answers to all this, you have a number to compare the influencer’s results. Is the influencer’s content gaining you more eyeballs than before? How is the audience viewing your audience? Is it different than before? The answers that you get now are much more structured, and this way, you would be able to understand if you’re going on the right track. 

While you’re looking at broad goals to track, you should also look at time-sensitive and measurable goals to track: 

  1. Increase awareness of luxury condos content on YouTube, drive impressions from 2.2MM to 4MM and increase views from 1.6MM to 2.5MM by December 21.
  2. Drive 40% more user-generated content on blogs and across social media channels.

You would already be tracking various KPIs to measure the success of your vacation rental property. In the same way, it is also important to track the success of your influencer campaign like any other marketing campaign that you would run on social media channels. Tracking marketing campaigns is the best way to understand which marketing strategy works for your property and which does not. Fixing the KPIs that you want to track will help you formulate a proper plan with your influencer to ensure your ideas are implemented properly. 

3. Chart out a timeline within which you want to execute the influencer marketing campaign

When talking to an influencer, it is important to remember that they will be engaging with other brands as well at the same time. They might or might not be engaged with another property. You should have your timeline sorted, from signing the contract to posting your content. This will help you and the influencer you collaborated with to plan accordingly. 

You can highlight:

  1. Key promotional times – holidays; these are key demand times for you. You can choose to collaborate with the influencer or ask them to refrain from creating any type of content these days 
  2. Potential campaigns
  3. When will the content get posted
  4. When will the payment be processed
  5. Their stay duration
  6. Approval process – while you are talking about the posting schedule, it is also important to factor in the time it will take for the influencer to shoot the content, get it approved by you and then make changes if any. You need to consider your property’s brand identity when approving posts sent by the influencer. 

4. Decide on a reporting format to be followed throughout the influencer marketing campaign

You are working with someone outside of your business. It is important to ensure accountability on either side to run a successful influencer marketing campaign. You can work with either an influencer marketing agency or an influencer directly. However, it might be. It is important to chart out regular meetings to ensure your influencer marketing campaign goes smoothly. This way, you can celebrate wins and identify red flags early on. 

When you have a proper reporting format in place, you can ensure that you know what is going on with your influencer marketing campaign. Suppose the influencer created amazing content, and both you and the influencer loved it. But it has not garnered the response that you expected it to. What do you do? You can pull the lever and change directions! Is the influencer not as responsive or good as you thought? Again, pull the lever if you want! 

Expectations might change during the campaign; you might now look at different things or have different requirements. A regular meeting will help you communicate your changing requirements with your influencer. 

5. Get a contract signed for the influencer marketing campaign

You are now finalizing an influencer; there are too many details to finalize before finalizing a commitment. Consider things like deadlines, remuneration, amenities that would be available for the influencer, etc. When things are not in written format, there is a chance of miscommunication. To avoid this and enable a smooth partnership, it is important to ensure everything is written and signed by both parties. 

The influencer is going to be staying at your property. You will be treating them like any other guest. When things are just in verbal communication, it is easy to miss out on various important details. Having things written will help you and the influencer you collaborated with to refer when things get confusing.

Your contract should include:

  1. Campaign requirements
  2. Deadlines
  3. Brand messaging
  4. Content that should be included
  5. Content that should not be included
  6. Creative assets
  7. Compensation details
  8. Social media IDs
  9. Disclosure statements
  10. Sample posts
  11. Competitive engagement details
  12. Confidential information details

Build and maintain proper relationships with travel influencers and let them use their knowledge, experience, and creativity to promote your business. Just remember to stay committed to your promises and ensure they are also committed to them. 

You need to choose influencers with a style that would match your property’s brand voice for the influencer marketing campaign to be successful. Remember, they will be representing your property on social media channels. 

Travel influencers and influencer marketing can take your short-term rental marketing to the next level. They will help you generate user-generated content. This is a great way to connect with your guests about your property’s stay experience. 

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